heard on the wire

I don’t know your name

It mystifies me when people dismiss 80s music; they were either listening to the rong radio station or they failed to tune in to 275 or 285 medium wave at 10pm, Monday to Thursday, for the late, great John Peel.

One glance at Peel’s — or, to be strictly accurate, the voting listeners’ — Festive Fifty for 1982, shows just how vibrant and diverse the year’s best music was, even allowing for records of dubious qualities (see Come on Eileen and the Psychedelic Furs). And this was before The Smiths, the decade’s best new band, had yet to make a record….

All of which poses something of a dilemma for anyone who has determined to blog about a song song-from-each-year-of-their-life. Do you plump for the lyrical and rhythmic genius of Grandmaster Flash, Robert Wyatt’s heartbreaking cover of Elvis Costello’s Falklands War lament, The Jam’s last great moment, or, for the second year in a row, New Order?

Amongst New Order cognoscenti, Temptation is often considered the band’s finest record not least because in 1982 it sounded so revolutionary. But while it’s clearly a great song, my feeling is that it was eclipsed by Blue Monday, released a year later and arguably the most important record of the decade.

Which still leaves me with a couple of dozen records to choose from, such as Serious Drinking’s paean to football, Norwich and Sharon from Southend, Love on the Terraces, Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse, the superbly named Stockholm Monsters and Happy Ever After or Simple Minds, yes Simple Minds, and the brilliantly uplifting Someone Somewhere (in Summertime).

And Minny Pops. Not be confused with the proto-Glee TV series, Minipops, Minny Pops were and still are a Dutch collective signed to Manchester’s Factory Records that would have slipped unnoticed below my musical radar were it not for Track Records in York. The second-best record shop in the city had an entire floor of its original premises dedicated to the seven- and 12-inch single — those were the days. Naturally the shop stereo could only get through a limited selection of these, so I consider myself very fortunate that I just happened to be there when this particular slice of black plastic was spinning.

Minny Pops :: Secret Story
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